NFL safety Nate Ebner withdrew from consideration for the U.S. Olympic men’s rugby team, citing an injury that required surgery.
“It pains me to announce my withdrawal from competing for a spot at the Tokyo Olympics with the USA Men’s Sevens,” Ebner said in a press release. “The time tables did not align with trials for the Games.”
The Olympic team of 12 is expected to be announced July 2.
In March, Ebner announced he was trying out for the Olympic rugby team, five years after making the team in Rio for the sport’s return to the program for the first time since 1924.
In 2016, Ebner became the first athlete with prior NFL regular season experience to compete in the Summer Olympics, less than five months after returning to rugby.
Ebner played on the U.S. junior national team before he focused on football at Ohio State and later won Super Bowls with the New England Patriots.
Ebner left Brazil unsatisfied. The U.S. was eliminated from medal contention in heartbreaking fashion before the knockout rounds.
Captain Madison Hughes missed a late two-point conversion attempt from out wide against Fiji in the group finale. Had he made it, the Americans still would have lost to the Fijians, but they would have been in position to sneak into the quarterfinals by one in tiebreaking point differential. Instead, they finished ninth.
“Not getting a medal in that last Olympics is something that really bothers me,” Ebner said in March, according to Giants.com (Ebner played for the New York Giants last season and is currently a free agent). “When I reflect on what’s important in my life, if I’m being honest, that was high priority. People say, ‘You were the guy who won a gold medal in the Olympics,’ and I’m like, ‘No, we didn’t win a medal.’ Not winning a medal, especially when I thought that we had the team to do it, and as I look at the growth in the last five years, we definitely have an even better chance this time around. It’s something I would really like to be a part of.”
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